September 19, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Srinagar, Kashmir: Kashmir’s pro-independence leaders have seized on Scotland’s plebiscite on freedom to demand that India deliver its promise to allow a similar vote in the disputed territory. The referendum for Scotland’s independence is being held on Thursday.
Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Wednesday, said, “We hope India will also change its approach and realise the fact that people’s rights can’t be trampled upon,” Farooq, the head Muslim priest on the Indian side of Kashmir, where a violent insurgency against New Delhi’s rule raged through the 1990s and resentment still runs high. It is encouraging that in a peaceful manner people will be deciding their future.”
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since a war after independence from Britain in 1947, and the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the territory.
India has never carried out a promise made more than six decades ago to hold a plebiscite that would determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
It now considers the entire region of snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys an integral part of its territory and maintains a massive military presence in Jammu and Kashmir, its northernmost and only Muslim-majority state.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj blurted out her horror at the thought of New Delhi’s former colonial master splitting apart, when questioned at a news conference last week.
Another pro-independence Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani lauded the United Kingdom for giving Scotland the vote, adding that London should now put pressure on India to grant Kashmiris a referendum.
“India should learn lessons from the UK and honour its commitment of granting right to self-determination to people of Kashmir,” Geelani said.
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Related Topics: India, Indian Politics, Kashmir Issue, Scotland Independence Referendum